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Starlight plans 5 towers at Victoria's Harris Green Village

A rendering of the proposed five-tower plan for Victoria's Harris Green Village. (Courtesy Starlight Investments)
A rendering of the proposed five-tower plan for Victoria's Harris Green Village. (Courtesy Starlight Investments)

Starlight Investments’ proposed Harris Green Village redevelopment at the edge of downtown Victoria will take its next step at a Feb. 9 public hearing.

An official community plan amendment and a rezoning application have been submitted by Toronto-based Starlight, which is proposing a three-phased development featuring 1,584 purpose-built rental apartment suites (including 80 below-market-value affordable units and accessible units accounting for five per cent of the total) in five towers ranging from 20 to 32 storeys and ground-level townhomes in a podium. 

There would also be more than 100,000 square feet of commercial and retail space on the 900 block of Yates Street and at 1045 Yates St., which comprise the redevelopment sites.

Starlight acquired the sites from local owners during a multi-year assembly process with the intention of redeveloping the assembly.

Its first application was submitted in 2020 and the company has continued to engage with the City of Victoria and community members over the past couple of years as it refined the plans.

“The objective was that this would be a mixed-use community which had a combination of commercial, retail, community and cultural space, and, of course, residential,” Starlight vice-president of development and construction Josh Kaufman told RENX. “The development basically takes up one-and-a-half blocks of land in downtown Victoria, which makes it the largest infill development in Victoria.”

Harris Green Village's residential component

The location is within a 15-minute walk of downtown, the harbour, schools, shops and public amenities. The two sites are currently home to commercial uses, including The Market on Yates and London Drugs, as well as a small number of residential tenants. 

Residential suite sizes will range from studios of approximately 300 square feet to three-bedroom townhomes of more than 1,000 square feet. One-third of the units will be family-sized with two or three bedrooms.

The 80 affordable residential units will be administered by BC Housing and 10 will be allocated to the local YMCA/YWCA.

Starlight executive director of development Shauna Dudding told RENX there are about 17,000 rental units in Victoria, with the vast majority built before 2000. There’s just a one per cent vacancy rate.

Six thousand people have been moving to British Columbia’s capital annually and that number will likely rise with the increased number of immigrants expected in Canada in the coming years, so there’s a definite need for more rental housing.

“We can't fix everything,” said Dudding. “But certainly we can attempt to make a dent in this and be part of the solution.” 

Commercial, community and amenity spaces

The Market on Yates will stay on in a new space as part of the first phase of the redevelopment and Starlight is also in negotiations to reach a similar agreement with London Drugs.

There are other smaller retailers, service providers, offices and medical offices on the two sites, and Kaufman would like to accommodate as many of them as possible as part of the redevelopment.

The 1.48-million-square-foot development will also include:

  • a public square and a privately owned but publicly accessible half-acre park;
  • a 10,000-square-foot community centre/flex space that will be given to the municipality;
  • a day-care centre and children's play areas;
  • landscaped courtyards;
  • rooftop social spaces as well as outdoor barbecue and dining areas;
  • dog runs;
  • lounges;
  • gyms and fitness studios;
  • electric vehicle chargers and car-share spaces;
  • and bicycle lockers.

There are plans to program the park with events to add vibrancy to the area and further cement Harris Green Village’s place as a welcoming spot for the community and non-residents.

Construction timelines

Kaufman is hopeful construction can begin at Harris Green Village as early as Q2 2023.

The first phase at 1045 Yates St. would include approximately 500 units, including the affordable component, in 20- and 21-storey towers. The Market on Yates would also be included within a 40,000-square-foot, multi-tenant retail component at grade.

That phase is expected to take three-and-a-half to four years to complete.

“We will have opportunities for occupancy of different spaces during that time period,” said Kaufman. “The commercial and the retail may have an opportunity to go ahead and get occupancy in advance of completing the building.

“Our objective is that when our tenants start to occupy the building, they're not waiting another six to nine months for tenants to open stores. You've got that amenity on Day 1. That's really, really important for us.” 

As the first phase is nearing completion, and the new The Market on Yates is operational, work on the second phase at the 900 Yates block would begin. Construction of Phase 3 would begin when its predecessor nears completion after three-and-a-half to four years.

The second and third phases would include 28-, 29- and 32-storey residential towers and more commercial space.

Starlight’s other Victoria-area developments

Starlight’s goal is to deliver more than 3,000 rental units to Vancouver Island in the next five to 10 years, according to Kaufman.

A 24-unit rental development called The Cove at 415-435 Michigan St., in Victoria’s James Bay area, is nearing completion. It includes 12 two-storey townhomes and 12 studio apartments, including three affordable units. May occupancy is anticipated.

Starlight plans to make its first application to the municipality to receive zoning and building permit approvals to build 90 rental units at 350 Douglas St. in the James Bay Area by the end of this quarter.

A development named Bella Vista, with two six-storey rental apartments and a combined 235 units, is under construction at 2515 Hackett Cres. in Central Saanich on Victoria’s Saanich Peninsula. Completion is expected in 2025.

Four six-storey rental apartments with a combined 597 units, as well as 9,000 square feet of commercial space, are under construction at 1110 McCallum Rd. in Langford. Completion for that is also expected in 2025.

“There are a number of other projects that we're working on that Starlight has based on infill opportunities or land that we purchase for opportunities for redevelopment,” said Kaufman.

“We’re exploring those right now.” 

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